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Alberto Vilar is out of jail

March 16, 2018 by norman lebrecht

37 comments.


A friend of the lavish opera donor has sent us this account:

Former opera sponsor Alberto Vilar, 77, was released from Fort Dix Correctional facility in New Jersey early Thursday and told to report at 2 pm to a halfway house in New York City to serve out the remaining six months of his ten-year term.

Vilar was arrested in May 2005 on charges of investor fraud and convicted in 2008 on all 12 counts. The judge in the case, Richard Sullivan, imposed a 9-year sentence on Vilar who, with his partner Gary Tanaka had run a successful financial company specializing in high-tech stocks. After losing the appeal, Sullivan imposed an additional year on the two defendants. Tanaka had been found guilty on three counts for which he received a five-year sentence.

The prosecution had charged the two men with having stolen $22 million dollars from some of their investors. After it became known that more than $45 million remained in the accounts of  their now defunct company, Amerindo Investment Advisors, Judge Sullivan appointed a receiver and charged him with identifying the investors and paying back their money. As of January 2018, court documents show, all investors have been made whole and were even paid interest for the 13 years they had no access to their funds.

Vivian Shevitz, the attorney who represents both men in the appeal said Thursday she had filed a writ of mandamus in which she asked the appeals court to replace Judge Sullivan and order a new trial.  Sources said some $10 million remains in the Amerindo accounts which Shevitz said the government wants to keep it all as forfeiture.

 

Expect to see him at the Met tonight, or very soon after. This will not please the board, who had his name removed from the balcony.


Comments (37)

  1. Elizabeth Owen says:

    Glad he got his come uppance. It was sick making watching the staff at the Garden kowtowing to him and him marching down to the front row wearing his look at me white dinner jacket. Or visiting the Met and seeing a poster with his name in large print, Levine’s slightly smaller and Verdi in tiny letters. Ugh.

    1. Caravaggio says:

      Gross, yes.

    2. martain smith says:

      E.O – bank on. Egos, egos, egos,…..

    3. martain smith says:

      E.O – bang on! Egos, egos, egos,…..

  2. kaa12840 says:

    Last night at the Met for Cosi fan Tutte, the couple next to me and I suddenly saw on the “subtitle” screen a message “This was made possible through a generous contribution by Alberto Vilar. We were speaking whether he could contribute from prison. But they said (they were French) that that was not possible. But he is back at the Met ! I wonder if the lobby will be named again after him

  3. The View from America says:

    Who needs soap operas when we have the MET?

    1. Doug says:

      Who needs a “more wretched hive of scum an villainy”?

  4. RW2013 says:

    At least he’s a classy dresser.

  5. John Borstlap says:

    Isn’t it nice that a millionaire is so fond of classical music that he is prepared to steal from other millionaires, who don’t share his cultural interests? I think those investors should have been sent to jail for amassing useless money instead of investing it in culture, not Vilar.

    Sally

    1. Doug says:

      Behold the basis of all Marxism-Leftism: Envy.

      1. Sue says:

        I’m thinking this comment was tongue-in-cheek!! And 9, even 10, years for investor fraud is M$2.2 return each year. Not a bad investment and worth the effort, since the society doesn’t think it warrants any more jail time than that. How many of the rest of us have managed that kind of investment return sitting on our backsides?

  6. Nick2 says:

    I find the hypocrisy here somewhat nauseating. Twenty years ago or so every opera company was wooing Vilar for the sole purpose of getting access to his cash. No others to my knowledge were splashing it on various opera companies anywhere near as much as Vilar. Rightly, he wanted the sort of credit given for such major donations – and received them. The fact that it may not have been his cash is secondary here. As the preamble makes clear, his investors have all been paid back in full and with interest.

    Because he was unable to hand over all he had pledged and despite his still having made very substantial contributions, organizations like the Met and the Royal Opera gladly accepted those first large payments. But then once the lawsuit started all seemed to take delight in stripping all evidence of Vilar from their buildings. I have no idea how much of those pledges he actually donated, but they must have been very sizeable sums. Those now seeking to treat him as a pariah might consider what might happen if he had the ability to withdraw all those funds he had earlier donated.

    1. Novagerio says:

      For one thing, there wouldn’t have been any Gergiev at the Met, nor any White Nights Festival in St.Petersburg, no Baden-Baden nor Luzerne festivals, not mentioning that both the Royal Opera and the Met would have closed permanently already 20 years ago…

    2. buxtehude says:

      @Nick2 Yes.

  7. Sharon says:

    As far as Vilar attending the Met is concerned, people in correctional dept Halfway Houses are still pretty tightly controlled and they almost always have an early curfew. However, he may be able to show up at a matinee.

    1. David Hilton says:

      Why would the Met board have a problem with a felon attending performances? One used to see Claus von Bulow regularly there; I should imagine he still attends. What’s a little financial fraud compared to homicide?

      1. GSPadron says:

        March 23, 2018 at 8:48 pm
        Excellent David, thanks for the comic relief…

        We provided the defense to Dershowitz via Shevitz and Walter p etc etc and other friends and family members authorization , for the Second bail, which would gotten Alberto fully Exonerated (if filed etc in its entirety, correctly/ only 30% was used)… We also promised to cover ALL The prior pledges Alberto had not paid… From the lawsuit against the illegal actions of a few crooked govt actors responsible in his case or our business transactions that were similarly intervened… We were THAT certain based on our investigation and opinion

        Why didnt Shevitz etc come up with the defense before was he in prison for 4 years (before or since)?
        Because It was our defense…

        See the Alberto Vilar Facebook page for the details…

        https://mobile.twitter.com/gspadron?lang=en

        Norman is one of the only journalist honestly reporting the issues (except that we weren’t paid or credited)… Good Alberto got an extra year, should’ve been more…

        However,

        Would you steal 5 million after donating $100-250 million? Of course not…

        Kudos to all involved though for bravery in the face of tyranny…

        Larger issues than Alberto are at stake…

        Interested in participating, sharing some of the profit? contact us…
        Billion dollar lawsuits…

        #Billionaireseatmillionaires

        Others similarly situated.

        Namaste

        Thank You for reading

        PS Thanks for deleting my comments…
        Dershowitz also handled the clause von below case and retired after this case…

        Honored and Humbled to have had the opportunity, a property we were acquiring (aside from other businesses) is now worth over 1.5 billion, a bit more business experience than some of the attorneys involved… Aside from having managed over 100 million per year in transactions 20 yrs ago…

      2. G. S. Patron says:

        PS they had $10,000,000.00 and or $1,00,000.00 (fee) for the bail but not to pay us for the defense? No wonder he ended up in jail, lol
        Absolutely no excuse for the nonsense.

        PS 6 other homes in other countries and 60 million in funds in the caymans and Europe…
        Lots of fun

        Thanks for censoring our other posts Lebrecht.

  8. Been Here Before says:

    Had any of the institutions that received donations from Villar ever returned the money or channelled it to charities? If not, it is deeply hypocritical to criticize him. I remember articles about him from the late ’90s when everybody was praising him to high heaven, and, as another commentator mentioned, many prominent opera houses were lining up to receive his cash.

    Clearly, he had committed fraud. Now he has repaid his debt to the society and returned funds to the victims of his fraud. The least anybody who ever received a donation from him can do right now is to keep their mouth shut.

  9. Anon says:

    That’s what you get when your cultural institutions depend fully on private money.

    1. David Hilton says:

      It’s also what you get when they don’t.

  10. Walter Pfaeffle says:

    The Vilar “fraud”: Lots of winners

    Isn’t it interesting that none of the investors the government referred to as victims, actually sued Vilar and his Partner, Gary Tanaka, for having stolen their money? That didn’t stop the government from determining that the defendants had caused $22 million dollars in losses. The jury bought it. However, they were never told about the $45 million dollars still left in the defendants’ company accounts. There are many winners in this strange case, especially the “victims” themselves. Their investments had made most of them rich. As of January 2018, all had been paid back with interest. Some fraud! Following the trial, the chief prosecutor joined a leading New York law firm, quadrupling his relatively modest government salary, according to media reports. His two assistants went into lucrative private practice as well. All three are now defending the same people they had been prosecuting on behalf of the government. Vilar and Tanaka together own the majority of a pension fund. The Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to grab this as well. It’s called forfeiture. Given the sad history of the case to date, they may succeed. The Receiver who was appointed by the trial judge to identify the claimants and return their funds, collected several hundred thousand dollars in fees. He enlisted the help of JPMorgan Chase which had held the $45 million since 2005 when the defendants were arrested. The bank paid no interest and cashed in again in the liquidation process. The judge, known for handing down stiff sentences, reportedly is lobbying for a seat on the Federal Court of Appeals which upheld the convictions several years ago. Given the law-and-order atmosphere in present-day Washington, he has a good chance of succeeding. The two losers are Alberto Vilar and Gary Tanaka. Their lawyer has filed a writ of mandamus to stop the government from grabbing the pension money. If the motion fails, the two once super-successful money managers will be left penniless. A French professor at my alma mater (Sciences po of Paris) once said: “The American system of justice is like staying at the Ritz: It’s excellent if you have the money.”

    1. John Borstlap says:

      If all this is true, the whole case is a kafkaesque insanity. Maybe in the end, there is not so much difference between the Russian kleptocracy and the one in the USA.

      1. Michael Endres says:

        “…there is not so much difference between the Russian kleptocracy and the one in the USA.”
        There is very little difference indeed.
        Same money grabbing, reckless and repulsive
        ilk, incl. the current Russian and US governments.

      2. Buxtehude says:

        No there is a huge difference.

        1. Michael Endes says:

          Trumps family business operating from inside the White House, the self serving tax cuts for the ultra rich: all that is more reminiscent of a banana republic than a country supposed to be leading the free world.
          The US legal system is another joke: as a result of the last financial crash not one Wall Street executive has ever been jailed. https://www.ft.com/content/de173cc6-7c79-11e7-ab01-a13271d1ee9c
          Enough said, case closed.

    2. Been Here Before says:

      This is an interesting post. The author should have acknowledged that he is part of Mr. Villar’s legal team, though.

      1. Walter says:

        I am a personal friend, not a lawyer. Nobody pays me. I have followed this case from the beginning. I think John Borstlap’s comment is pretty accurate.

        1. Been Here Before says:

          I am not saying that you or John were wrong. Because of so much information provided in your initial post, I thought it was either Vilar or Tanaka behind it. Just in case, I googled the name and this is what I got:

          “Prosecutors said Vilar’s and Tanaka’s victims lost $40 million. Vilar’s attorneys argue that the government froze more than $50 million in 2005 at J.P. Morgan Chase, and there is more than enough money to repay those victims, but the government won’t release it, said Walter Pfaeffle, part of Vilar’s legal team.”

          https://www.vaildaily.com/news/vilar-attorney-hopeful-to-win-appeal/

        2. Been Here Before says:

          And by the way, let me just add that I am rather sympathetic to Vilar’s situation. He had sinned and has now repaid his debt to the society. Now it is time to let him be forgotten and spend the rest of his life enjoying opera.

          1. Sue says:

            “Repaid his debt” aye? His jail livery will see him exchange one set of stripes for another psychological one. These types of crooks rarely change their behaviour. The legal system is never smart enough to work that out so they dispense ‘justice’ on the basis of dry legal parameters and on a case-by-case basis. When working out effective punishment for corporate felons the law needs to look at precedents in behaviour and recidivism. If not they are only semi-serious.

          2. Been Here Before says:

            Aren’t you the one who keeps repeating that life is not fair and that we should get over it?

          3. Saxon Broken says:

            I understand that Sue believes that life should be more fair for some people than others.

  11. Walter says:

    Yes, some years ago I provided one journalist with information about the case. He assumed, on the basis of my knowledge, that I was part of Vilar’s legal team. I didn’t mind.

  12. Quick Silver says:

    I wasn’t at the trial, but from the commentary I read at the time it seems that it was attitudes like Ms Owen’s that convicted Vilar — a jury of ordinary New Yorkers didn’t like his suits or his manner. That’s evidenced by the fact that when the jury retired they immediately convicted Vilar on every count and immediately acquitted Tanaka, his quiet, unassuming partner of most of them. It was only after much longer deliberation that they agreed to convict Tanaka of 3 of the charges, presumably on the basis that as the partner he knew or should have known…

    In fact, as I recall the evidence was of instances of oversights, corner-cutting and foul-ups which earned Vilar nothing and cost his clients nothing, but each of which was technically a felony. You can’t say the jury was wrong, but you can say the prosecution should never have been pursued.

  13. GSPadron says:

    The photo, is of his prior release on Bail the second time?….

    Yes, Your welcome for the credit once again, (Vilars second release on Bail where we provided the defense after the four years he spent in prison)

    There is no debtors court, it was abolished.

    Not sure what the game is
    other than there are also plenty of other wrongfully incarcerated persons still in Jails and prisons all over the country.
    The issue is bigger than Alberto case…
    Asked them to also sign confidentiality agreements…

    Thank you for the anti-envy comments, mighty wicked and sad., and the facilities comments, organizations that didn’t return funds (if it was so criminal),

    appreceate the pro ethics comments and the admiration of hard work,
    principals that made this country, great, sadly those principals and ethics aren’t valued any longer…

  14. lyz jaakola says:

    I am a 20 year Native American Tribal college music instructor. I began my music career hoping to perform in operas, but alas, I didn’t make it too far off the reservation… all this is fascinating to me! How does a person donate millions to opera companies, commit fraud, do 10 years and not have an opera composed about his shenanigans?!


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